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 March 2005 From the Editor's Desk
E-mail Maryann Gorman

The Key Is Cooperation

In early 2004, I had the opportunity to meet Chang Wook Kang, a professor of engineering from South Korea’s Hanyang University, Ansan Campus. He was visiting ASTM International Headquarters after speaking with faculty at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to benchmark standardization education there. At Catholic, Dr. Kang had met with William E. Kelly, who is chair of the American National Standards Institute’s Committee on Education and a professor of engineering at the school, and Don Purcell, who was a driving force behind the development in 1999 of a unique course in strategic standardization for business, law and engineering graduate students at Catholic University.

And therein lies a tale, a tale Dr. Kang told to ASTM’s director of external relations, Teresa Cendrowska, and me when we sat down again with him at ASTM Headquarters in early February to find out what came of that benchmarking visit.

Dr. Kang told us that his discussion with Dr. Kelly and Mr. Purcell convinced him of the need to educate future engineers about the significance of standards to their future work and to industry, business and trade. When Dr. Kang returned to his campus, his request to teach a “Global Standards Strategy” course, as an elective, to undergraduate engineering students was met enthusiastically by his department; by September 2004, not only was Dr. Kang’s class developed, but the Korean Standards Association had gotten 10 other universities interested in the idea and teaching a standards curriculum as well. For the semester beginning this month, 40 universities in Korea are teaching the course. You can see the full story in the interview with Dr. Kang.

What fascinates me most about the Korean achievement is that it is the story of cooperation among academics, government officials, and professionals in standardization and industry. Professors saw the need to teach standardization to their students and were willing to develop a curriculum. The government was willing to subsidize the project. Staff at the Korean Standards Association came forward to coordinate funding, textbook development, and promotion to various universities, and industry leaders were willing to aid professors by speaking in the classroom.

Sometimes moments arise in a culture when all forces converge to make possible what had been thought unnecessary or impossible. This is such a moment for standards education in Korea. It is my hope that, by learning of this amazing cooperative effort, standards professionals, academics, and businesspeople are inspired to do similar work in other countries.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

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